What is Bias, Prejudice & Oppression? Before I scribble down experiences, I wanted to have a deeper understanding of these words. We hear them all the time, but do we actually know what they mean? They have been thrown around so easily, and people being victims of these occasions, are daily.
I moved to South-Korea in the time when Ebola broke out in West-Africa. This had nothing to do with me, but my incident did. I was meeting friends in Seoul at a very well known restaurant/pub. Coming into the pub, there was a notice that no Africans were allowed, due to the Ebola breakout in Africa. IN AFRICA? Do they know how big Africa is?
I remember being uncomfortable the moment I walked into the pub…as I am African…as my passport clearly states African…South, East, West – it doesn’t matter.
My friend just laughed at my expression and said: “Esthe, you are white, that means in Asia, that you cannot be African!” I was shocked by her comment and soon realized that because I am white, they did not even bother to ask me my ID.
We sat not too far from the door, and I watched every person that walked into the pub. The waiters only asked those with a darker skin colour to show their ID’s. There are multiple American military bases in Korea, where many of the soldiers are black. Even these soldiers were asked to show ID’s, and when they asked why they got told because they are black they have to come from Africa. These men took a stand and left, even if they were not African, they would not support this business. It was an insult to their race.
I realized my passport here did not matter. It did not matter that I was from Africa too, but because I am white, I had privilege. I get a lot of frowns whenever my students or their parents ask me where I am from. When I say South-Africa the second question always follows:
My conversations with older students on a daily basis shows me how uninformed the world is about other countries. It shows me that, what they are being taught is one-sided and how the world sees it.
I also have to admit, that I am a victim of being uninformed…before I met my Canadian boyfriend, I didn’t even know Canada was a separate country from the US. YEs, I am highly embarrassed that I 1) either never listened in school, or 2) we were not only taught about our own country. I also thought that it only snows there…after being there for 2 months…I very soon realized that it can in fact, get really hot!
It is important for us as educators to understand the deeper meaning of bias, prejudice, and oppression. We are the examples for our students and we need to teach them correctly. Using diversity as a benefit in the classroom would create outstanding caring positive social change leaders!